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Study: NBA sponsorship revenue climbs 12.5% to US$1.64bn for 2021/22

Cryptocurrency brands spend more than US$130m, representing one third of all new deals.

1 June 2022 Ed Dixon

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  • Cryptocurrency companies spent less than US$2m in 2020/21
  • Technology, crypto, banks, telecommunications and sports apparel categories named top spenders
  • Insurance, beer, retail, automotive, lottery and gaming most active brand categories

Cryptocurrency brands helped the National Basketball Association (NBA) rake in US$1.64 billion in annual sponsorship fees for the 2021/22 season, a year-over-year (YoY) rise of 12.5 per cent, according to a study by sponsorship consultancy IEG.

Brands in the cryptocurrency space alone spent more than US$130 million for 2021/22, with IEG’s sponsorship intelligence database highlighting the massive increase from the season prior when the sector spent less than US$2m.

Five brands – Crypto.com, Webull, Coinbase, FTX and Socios – are responsible for 92 per cent of the cryptocurrency sector spending in the NBA, including some of the most high-profile inventory in the league, such as naming and jersey patch sponsorship. A notable example includes Crypto.com snapping up the naming rights for the Los Angeles Lakers’ home arena in a deal reportedly worth US$700 million over 20 years.

New arena naming rights agreements were also signed between the Miami Heat and FTX, the Phoenix Suns and Footprint, the Indiana Pacers and Gainbridge, as well as the Oklahoma City Thunder and Paycom.

IEG’s study also shows that there were nine new jersey patch sponsors, including the Philadelphia 76ers’ deal with Crypto.com, which is reportedly worth more than US$10 million a year.

New NBA league-wide sponsors included Coinbase, Google, Caesars Sportsbook, LegalZoom.com, ServiceNow.com and Wilson.

The technology sector was the top sponsorship spender, ahead of the cryptocurrency, banks, telecommunications and sports apparel categories, with each forking out more than US$100 million annually.

The top spending companies with annual sponsorship rights of more than US$50 million include official NBA partners Nike, Microsoft, AB InBev, Pepsi and AT&T.

Insurance, beer, retail, lottery and gaming, and automotive are the most active brand categories across the league, with all five categories holding more than 70 active deals.

AB InBev, Pepsi, Socios, State Farm, Toyota and Verizon are the most active brands sponsoring the NBA and its teams. Each brand currently holds more than 20 sponsorship deals.

“The cryptocurrency category’s sponsorship sending spree is like nothing we have ever seen before, representing one third of all new NBA sponsorship deals,” said Peter Laatz, global managing Director, IEG.

“In one year, the category has rocketed up from 43rd to the become second highest spending sponsorship sector in the NBA right behind technology.”

IEG conducted a similar study for the National Football League’s (NFL) 2021/22 season, revealing that total sponsorship rights fee revenue for the league and its teams had climbed 12 per cent YoY to US$1.8 billion.

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